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Communication protocol
PurposeAllow clients access to remote dictionaries
Developer(s)DICT Development Group
IntroductionJanuary 1, 1997; 27 years ago (1997-01-01)
OSI layerApplication layer (7)
Port(s)2628 (TCP)
RFC(s)RFC 2229 A Dictionary Server Protocol

DICT is a dictionary network protocol created by the DICT Development Group[1] in 1997, described by RFC 2229.[2] Its goal is to surpass the Webster protocol to allow clients to access a variety of dictionaries via a uniform interface.

In section 3.2 of the DICT protocol RFC, queries and definitions are sent in clear-text, meaning that there is no encryption. Nevertheless, according to section 3.1 of the RFC, various forms of authentication (sans encryption) are supported, including Kerberos version 4.[2]

The protocol consists of a few commands a server must recognize so a client can access the available data and lookup word definitions. DICT servers and clients use TCP port 2628 by default. Queries are captured in the following URL scheme:


Resources for free dictionaries from DICT protocol servers[edit]

A repository of source files for the DICT Development group's dict protocol server (with a few sample dictionaries) is available online.[3]

Dictionaries of English[edit]

Bilingual dictionaries[edit]

  • Big English–Russian Dictionary
  • English–French dictionary
  • Freedict provides a collection of over 85 translating dictionaries, as XML source files with the data, mostly accompanied by databases generated from the XML files in the format used by DICT servers and clients. These are available from the Freedict project web site at.[6]
  • FREELANG Dictionary
  • Lingvo English–Russian and Russian–English dictionaries are not free, but when purchased, can easily be converted into DICT format
  • Mueller's English–Russian dictionary
  • Slovak-English legal dictionary
  • Slovak-Italian legal dictionary

DICT servers[edit]

  • dictd[7] (the standard server made by the DICT Development Group)
  • DictD++[8] – modern powerful server written in C++ with heavy usage of STL and boost (abandoned)
  • GNU Dico[9]
  • JDictd[10] – a Java-based DICT server implementation (abandoned)

DICT clients[edit]

A dictd server can be used from Telnet. For example, to connect to the DICT server on localhost, on a Unix system one can normally type:

telnet localhost dict

and then enter the command "help" to see the available commands. The standard dictd package also provides a "dict" command for command-line use.

More sophisticated DICT clients include:

There are also programs that read the DICT file format directly. For example, S60Dict,[20] is a dictionary program for Symbian Series 60 that uses DICT dictionaries. Additionally, some DICT clients, such as Fantasdic, are also capable of reading the DICT format directly.

Dict file format[edit]

The standard dictd[7] server made by the DICT Development Group[1] uses a special dict file format. It comprises two files, a .index file and a .dict file (or .dict.dz if compressed). These files are usually generated by a program called dictfmt. For example, the Unix command:

dictfmt --utf8 --allchars -s "My Dictionary" -j mydict < mydict.txt

will compile a Unicode-compatible DICT file called mydict, with heading My Dictionary, from mydict.txt which is in Jargon File format i.e.:

:word1:definition 1
:word2:definition 2

Once the dictionary file has been produced, it can be easily installed on a server with commands similar to this:

mv mydict.dict mydict.index /usr/share/dictd/
/etc/init.d/dictd restart

Format converters[edit]

  • Linguae Software[21] is able to convert from/to wb, dict (stardict and dictd) csv, xdxf, txt, ini and ling (native) file formats, Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.
  • XDXF[22] XML Dictionary Exchange Format converts between various dictionary formats using pluggable codec architecture.


In order to efficiently store dictionary data, dictzip, an extension to the gzip compression format (also the name of the utility), can be used to compress a .dict file. Dictzip compresses file in chunks and stores the chunk index in the gzip file header, thus allowing random access to the data.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "dict.org". Dict.org. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b Faith, Rickard E.; Martin, Bret (October 1997). "rfc2229". datatracker.ietf.org. Retrieved 2021-09-11.
  3. ^ "dict.org: Resources". Dict.org. Archived from the original on 30 August 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  4. ^ "U.S. Gazetteer". www.census.gov. Archived from the original on 1 January 1997. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  5. ^ "delorie.com". Delorie.com. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  6. ^ "freedict.org". FreeDict Project. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "DICT Development Group". SourceForge. Retrieved 2021-09-11.
  8. ^ "ndl.kie.ua". Ndl.kiev.ua. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  9. ^ "gnu.org". Gnu.org. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  10. ^ Ho Ngoc Duc. "informatik.uni-leipzig.de". Informatik.uni-leipzig.de. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  11. ^ "DICT Client". SourceForge. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  12. ^ "DictEm - Dictionary client for Emacs download". SourceForge. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015.
  13. ^ "garage: MaemoDict: Project Info". Garage.maemo.org. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  14. ^ "mozdev.org - dict: index". Dict.mozdev.org. Archived from the original on 2009-12-26. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  15. ^ "OKDict". Kilargo. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  16. ^ "Presentation". Pentila. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008.
  17. ^ "Start —". Zope.org. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  18. ^ "Pentila Néro". Pentila.com. Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  19. ^ "apps:xfce4-dict:start [Xfce Docs]". docs.xfce.org. Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  20. ^ Giannakakis, Kostas. "S60Dict". Archived from the original on 11 June 2013.
  21. ^ "Linguae, gestionnaire de dictionnaires". Linguae.stalikez.info. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  22. ^ "soshial/xdxf_makedict · GitHub". Github.com. Retrieved 2015-03-07.

External links[edit]